H.S. English Teacher Says She Doesn't Want to Teach Shakespeare Because He's White

ashley.rae | June 16, 2015
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A California high school English teacher has announced she does not want to teach her students Shakespeare because he’s white.

In a Washington Post column noting teachers have begun to opt out of teaching Shakespeare to students, Luther Burbank High School English teacher Dana Dusbiber explained her reasoning for excluding who many consider to be one of the greatest writers of all-time.

According to Dusbiber, “I do not believe that a long-dead, British guy is the only writer who can teach my students about the human condition."

Dusbiber explained she worries the emphasis on Shakespeare comes at the expense of teaching from non-white perspectives:

“What I worry about is that as long as we continue to cling to ONE (white) MAN’S view of life as he lived it so long ago, we (perhaps unwittingly) promote the notion that other cultural perspectives are less important. In the 25 years that I have been a secondary teacher, I have heard countless times, from respected teachers (mostly white), that they will ALWAYS teach Shakespeare, because our students need Shakespeare and his teachings on the human condition.”

Dusbiber asks why teachers do not teach about “the oral traditions out of Africa” or "translations of early writings or oral storytelling from Latin America or Southeast Asia" and, instead, focus on "Western literary canon."

She thinks less emphasis on Shakespeare would benefit all students:

"If we only teach students of color, as I have been fortunate to do my entire career, then it is far past the time for us to dispense with our Eurocentric presentation of the literary world. Conversely, if we only teach white students, it is our imperative duty to open them up to a world of diversity through literature that they may never encounter anywhere else in their lives."

Dusbiber - who is white - claims it is "sad that so many of my colleagues teach a canon that some white people decided upon so long ago and do it without question.”